One team + one hot weekend = one great memory

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Column by Jeff D'Alessio

By Jeff D'Alessio

I have three pictures on my desk at work and several more near my constant companion at the office — my computer.

There are two photos of my wife and me with our soon-to-be 2-year-old granddaughter, Madeline, on the beaches of Gulf Shores, Ala., from a family vacation in June.

There’s one of our son, Tanner, in his Central Hardin High School baseball uniform and another from when he was in fifth grade and he and a classmate, Lance Baker, had a long snake wrapped around their shoulders.

They were brave youngsters.

And there is a team baseball photo that appeared in the Aug. 4, 2005, edition of The News-Enterprise from winning a late July tournament in Lebanon.

Under the headline “Marion County Champions’’ is a photo of 13 players on an 8-year-old Elizabethtown All-Star team and four coaches — all dads of players.

Time has started to add a yellow tinge to the photo, but time has done nothing but enhance that brutally hot weekend in Marion County. It has become legendary in some circles.

In a span of 30 hours, these youngsters won six straight coach-pitch tournament games in temperatures that neared 100 degrees with thick and sometimes unbearable humidity.

I have coached a lot of teams and a lot of players. I have had many great moments coaching my son and many, many others in baseball.

That weekend ranks at the top. That is why the team photo has remained in place for more than seven years.

When some of us see each other from time to time, often we talk about that tournament. And we smile.

When those former teammates play against my son’s high school team now, I cannot cheer against them.

We learned a lot about those kids that weekend. We actually lost our first game on Friday night to Adair County, 3-2. The coaches were stunned and one actually wondered out loud if we should just drop out of the tournament if we weren’t going to hit any better than what we had just showed.

We stayed in, and we won. And won. And won.

Because of the age of the boys and because to that point in their baseball lives they were a pretty good team at best, the coaches were a little stunned by this wave of exceptional play under weather conditions where it would have been easy for them to quit.

Maybe because of their age, they just wanted to keep playing.

I will always have this picture because it takes me back to a really good time in our lives when relationships were a lot more genuine.

I have coached better teams with more talented players. I have not been a part of a team that battled with more determination than this one or one where lasting friendships were developed for kids and parents.

We are joined by that team.

As I look at that picture now, I know that nine of the 13 players still play baseball. Two have moved on and are committed to other sports and two others I don’t believe play sports any longer.

I know that some of those youngsters still call me “coach” and I enjoy hearing that.

So to Jesse Morris, Lance Baker, Zechariah Maulden, Koy Lindsey, Dillon Glenn, Dakota Rothermel, Zach Patterson, Matthew Finn, Kyle Jury, Joseph Brangers, Tanner Carter, Kai Minagawa and Tanner D’Alessio, I still say thank you for your effort that weekend.

That championship run and you boys will stay with many of us forever.

Jeff D’Alessio is the news editor. He can be reached at (270) 505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.